Ranking the mobile carriers in the US: Verizon and AT&T topped the rankings, but Sprint and T-Mobile stepped up their games

Aug 20, 2015 · 4 min read

If you’re anything like me, your smartphone is with you nearly all the time. Whether I’m at a baseball game, at home, or taking the bus to work, I use my phone to stay in touch with friends, get directions, read the news, and much more. As our smartphones become more vital to our daily lives, experiencing good mobile performance is becoming more and more important in all the places we use our phones.

RootMetrics recently published its semi-annual review of mobile performance in the United States. The report is a comprehensive analysis of how the four national US carriers performed in the ways and spaces that matter most to consumers. RootMetrics measured overall performance, network reliability, network speed, as well as data, call, and text performance across the entirety of the US, within each of the 50 states, and in the 125 most populous metropolitan markets across the country to see how the carriers compared.

On the surface, the results of the RootMetrics National, State, and Metro RootScore studies were similar to those from the second half of 2014 and perhaps not all that surprising: In short, AT&T and Verizon stole the show, winning far more RootScore Awards than either Sprint or T-Mobile. As big winners, AT&T and Verizon deservedly received a lot of attention.

Below the surface, however, the results from Sprint and T-Mobile were also compelling, especially at the metro level. While neither Sprint nor T-Mobile earned any RootScore Awards at the national level, Sprint won or shared 25 State RootScore Awards. T-Mobile, however, didn’t win any state-level awards, which is a decline from the previous report, when T-Mobile shared four state-level RootScore Awards.

Since many of us spend so much time within metro areas, the importance of fast and reliable service across these spaces is paramount. While AT&T and Verizon also had excellent performances in metro areas, Sprint and T-Mobile also made noise.

Let’s take a closer look at how Sprint and T-Mobile performed at the metro level in the first half of 2015:


Sprint earned 180 Metro RootScore Awards, which is a substantial improvement from 135 in the previous test period. In fact, the additional 45 RootScore Awards Sprint earned was the second highest jump among all networks, behind only AT&T’s 53 incremental awards.

The long and short of Sprint’s story is that the network has improved both its reliability and speed in metro areas for the second consecutive test period. As a result, Sprint continues to earn more Metro RootScore Awards. And as the network’s LTE and Spark™ footprints continue to gain maturity, Sprint customers should continue to be pleased with the network’s performance in metro areas.


T-Mobile also made significant strides in metro testing compared to the last report. T-Mobile’s total of 221 Metro RootScore Awards was third behind AT&T and Verizon, and a jump of 20 Metro RootScore Awards compared to the previous test period. The primary drivers behind T-Mobile’s increased award total were its improvements in call performance, network reliability, and network speed.

Consider this: T-Mobile recorded median download speeds faster than 10 Mbps in 102 of the 125 metros RootMetrics tested, with speeds faster than 20 Mbps in 45 of those markets. While T-Mobile’s results at the national and state levels may be subpar, its customers shouldn’t be disappointed in urban areas.

While AT&T and Verizon were again the clear leaders across all the spaces where consumers use their smartphones, keep in mind that Sprint and T-Mobile both made significant gains in metro testing compared to the previous report. If you live in a metro area, Sprint or T-Mobile could be worth a look.

The strong performances that RootMetrics found from multiple networks in metro testing is great news for consumers, as they have multiple choices when choosing a carrier right for their individual mobile needs. Check out the full report to see how the carriers stacked up in the places that matter most to you and to learn more about the methodology behind the scoring.

Providing nation-to-neighborhood insights to help improve your mobile life, we’re the standard for consumer-focused mobile performance measurement.

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